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05 April 2010 @ 11:17 am
Tax Season  
Well, I have filed my taxes and despite all my paranoid calculations which always edge on the side of insane bad luck, I got a refund instead of having to pay. This is awesome. Because we need the money like nobody's business. But it reminded me of this being the 22nd year of paying taxes.

I was 19 years old, and a manager of the Crown Books in Rose Hill in the spring of 1988. My journey from graduating high school and being on my own to running a book store was a winding and twisting road, but as I got my W2's and saw my name and status as "Manager," felt pretty proud of myself. Most of my fellow students I graduated with were still in their first year in college. Some of them would call me up, and they seemed like kids in comparison.

Friend: WE'RE BACK FROM SPRING BREAK WE'RE GONNA GET DRUNK WOOO!!!
Me: Pretty cool. How was college?
Friend: AWESOME WOOO!! COME WITH US! WE'RE GOING TO VIRGINIA BEACH!
Me: Oh, I am sorry, I have to work this weekend.
Friend: So, call in sick, man!
Me: I can't do that, who'd run the store? My assistant would have to work two weekend days solid, I can't do that to him. Besides, I have a yearly review of one of my cashiers, and my monthly book rep from Pocket books needs me to sign off on a PO.
Friend: ... bummer dude.

They eventually stopped calling, which was kind of sad, but... being an adult kind of means I had to leave those things behind. Another "adult" thing I faced that sticks in my mind was how to file taxes. My dad was already on the ball, full of helpful advice. First time we had really spoken since I moved out, he cut to the quick.

Dad: So don't file taxes, as I am claiming you as a dependent.
Me: Um... but I didn't live with you for most of the year. And you never paid for anything.
Dad: Don't be stupid, just let me handle it.
Me: But I am 19 and technically an adult.
Dad: Just do as I say.
Me: That doesn't sound legal...
Dad: You don't know what you're talking about! Just do as I say, and don't be a dummy.

After we hung up, I thought about it. My father never considered my interests in everything, and I was nervous that if I didn't pay taxes, the IRS would come get me and what would he care? So I filed taxes. I ended up owing money because one of my previous employers took out taxes on my paycheck but did not put them on my W2s in a moment of obvious fraud. I was filling out a 1040EZ at the time, and didn't understand how things worked very well. In retrospect, I could have really sued the guy, but I was 19, alone, and the only legal advice I had were "friends who said I should sue" (and who doesn't have a bunch of those?). It was a $900 lesson, which all but wiped any Federal refund that year. State taxes were another matter, however, and I got a hefty refund that softened that blow.

A few months later, I got a call from the IRS asking why I filed, and I told them my story. "Thank you," they said, agreeing that living with my father for 10 days at age 18 did not constitute me as a dependent in their eyes, either.

Then I got a call from my dad a few days later, FURIOUS. I told him I was not playing games with the IRS, that I was not legally a dependent, and he used the "you're so dumb you have no idea what you're talking about what a failure" speech he was famous for giving anyone he disagreed with. I have to say, even now, I still get a little defensive, because even though I felt defrauding the IRS was a bad idea, I can still feel like I am 1 inch tall as my dad berated me on how I was so immature at not understanding how the real world operates. My dad had this amazing ability to do this to others, and I was no exception. I am not sure what the IS did to him, but I hope it gave him and his half a million annual income a hefty fine.

Every few years, I go through my paperwork and shred old documents. I save anything that seems important for 7 years or more, which includes tax returns. But one tax return I have never shredded is that one from 1988. Maybe it's childish, but when I open the manila envelope from time to time, I laugh like Bender from Futurama, "Hee hee hee..." My W2 from Crown Books is faded so much, you can barely make out the printer ink, but I still have some kind of weird pride at seeing "Manager" by my name.
 
 
 
rmartin_justmermartin_justme on April 5th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
When I was 14, I had a job at Music&Arts, and I still filed my taxes, even though I was still a dependent. Not that I owed any taxes, but if you have taxes withheld, you need to file whether or not you live with your parents. So your dad was wrong either way. Why do some people think that being louder = being right?
Gwenglittagwen on April 5th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
My mother did the same thing to me. I allowed her to claim me as a dependent up until age 23, when a roommate pointed out that she was doing it to make money, and that she was basically stealing from me. She wouldn't speak to me for months afterwards. :(